Welcome, children of the night! This Blog is for fans of vintage horror films as well as those who are just beginning to discover the joy of these classic movies. I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Aliens (1986)

Wow! It's hard to believe it took this many years to produce a sequel to the brilliant Alien (1979). This time out they upped the budget from 11 million to 18.5. They also jettisoned Ridley Scott [Black Hawk Down, American Gangster, Kingdom of Heaven] and brought in James Cameron [The Terminator, Titanic, Avatar] to direct. The urban legend is that Sigourney Weaver refused to reprise the character until she read Cameron's script. The rest, they say, is history.

So how does it stack up to the original? Both films are excellent but they are also quite different from each another. Alien is quiet, brooding, beautiful and intense. Aliens is a guns blazing action adventure with stunning special effects.  Scott and Cameron definitely know how to make big, epic films and these two are pretty much a virtual tie in terms of excellent filmmaking. It all depends upon whether you like to brood or blow things up. I'm a brooder so I prefer the original over the sequel!

In addition to a totally kick ass performance from Sigourney Weaver, the cast of Aliens is loaded with stars including Bill Paxton, Paul Reiser and my personal favorite Lance Henricksen who plays the android, Bishop, like no one else can. Everyone in this cast gives a stellar performance. Personally, I could have done without the screaming little girl who looked like a reject from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. I would have fed her to the creatures early in the film but, hey, that's just me. Some find her character adorable. I thought she was annoying.

The second film takes place 57 years after the first. Weaver's character Ripley has been in cryo-sleep all this time after having defeated the alien and saved the cat! Now she is discovered, thawed out, and ready for action. Weaver joins a group of marines for a search/rescue/destroy mission back on the planet she first encountered the creatures. She goes, kicks some booty, and that's all you really need to know.

Aliens is NOT an intellectual film. It's a joy ride.  \If you want the intellectual side to this story go see the brilliant and beautiful Prometheus (2012) that came out this summer and was directed by Ridley Scott. It's the "prequel" to Alien and is a brooding, intense work of art. Aliens needs to be approached like an Indiana Jones film. Root for the good guys. Enjoy seeing things get blown up. Ooh and aah at the special effects. And watch Sigourney Weaver as she gives a strong performance in one of the best roles of her career.

Recently I bought the Alien Quadrilogy (Blu-Ray Edition) that contains a Director's Cut of the film. James Cameron tells the audience at the beginning of the film that the original version was too long for the producing studio so it demanded several cuts to tighten the plot. Cameron restores these cuts to the film and says it is his preferred way to see the Aliens. I really loved the extra material and didn't feel like it was too long in the least. It adds a little more depth to the film without sacrificing the pacing of the action. See this version if you can get your hands on a copy of it.

RATING: Excellent.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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